Cult Horror Corner: The Seasoning House
What’s the point? Seriously, what’s the point? Why do I have to spend 100 minutes watching a film in which every character is horrible, every location is grimy, and every scene depicts an unpleasant rape or violent act? Paul Heytt’s directorial debut The Seasoning House is just another in a long line of films that attempts to shock and repulse viewers without doing much else. It’s better than a lot of its contemporaries, but that doesn’t mean much.
Set in the Balkans, The Seasoning House concerns a group of young woman kidnapped and forced into sex slavery, to military men. Among these young women is the deaf-mute Angel (played reasonably well by Rosie Day). The assistant to sleazy Viktor (Kevin Howarth, looking like Willem Dafoe’s drug peddling nephew), Angel wanders through the cracks and crawl spaces in the walls and cleans up the girls after each disturbing session with a “client”. When one of her friends is killed by a soldier, Angel begins to take revenge on the soldiers who have used and abused the girls; most of all, her Mother’s killer, Goran (Sean Pertwee, visibly embarrassed in a laughably rubbish performance).
Heytt isn’t a bad director, producing a couple of slick chase scenes and a few effective scenes of military abuse. Highest praise of all goes to cinematographer Adam Etherington, who makes even the ugliest of scenes pretty stunning to look at. Where Heytt fails as a director is in the performances, of which Rosie Day is the only actor in the film who comes off well. Every soldier is a one-note grunt of a baddie, sneering and leering as they rape and kill as much as they please, like characters in the worst Call of Duty game possible. The Seasoning House might just have gotten away with such shoddy acting if it had much else to offer.
Instead, the film is a bit of a chore to sit through. It’s long, it’s slow, and it’s far too morbid to be of any entertainment. Certain films, like Holocaust and slavery dramas, can justify such depressing depths. If The Seasoning House wanted to be a film about the Balkans conflict, it probably could have justified the endless rape and abuse. When it becomes a fairly generic survival horror towards the end, it just feels a bit abhorrent to take advantage of an awful real-life event. The Seasoning House is better shot than many low budget horror films, and there are some decent thrills in the second half, but a large majority of the film is rapey, dreary tedium.
By Harry Ford